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Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms – Detox and Treatment

Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms – Detox and Treatment

Few illicit substances create damaging and potentially permanent changes in the brain’s chemistry like methamphetamine (crystal meth). Behind the bizarre, frightening, and often psychotic behavior that meth users experience is a series of complex neurobiological changes that cause them to engage in the single-minded and obsessive pursuit of the drug. At the same time, the heart and the rest of the body are rendered increasingly vulnerable to long-term and potentially fatal injury. Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms manifest after a very short-term use (often after as little as two or three uses). Relief of crystal meth withdrawal symptoms requires experienced and qualified medical detox and treatment.

The Scope of American Crystal Meth Addiction

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that methamphetamine deaths have tripled over the past seven years with little signs of slowing down. The problem is affecting certain areas of the country far more than others. In Ohio, for example, one study from the state’s namesake university indicates that meth deaths among residents have increased over 5,000 percent over the past decade. Finally, the CDC reports more than ten thousand fatal meth overdoses in 2017 across the United States. In addition to the immediate health risks and fatalities, meth addiction creates serious and urgent public health crises in the communities in which labs operate.

Signs of Crystal Meth Addiction

The physical, psychological, and behavioral signs that someone is using crystal meth manifest very quickly and can be impossible to ignore.

Meth can start altering the brain’s chemistry after the first few cycles of use, leading to the almost immediate onset of tolerance and dependence, a condition often illustrated through a variety of indicators, including, but not limited to:

  • Psychosis and paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme irritability
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Meth rash and meth skin
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Failing at school and work
  • Increasingly high-risk behavior
  • Legal issues
  • Deception about their use

The effects of meth on the teeth and gums can be especially severe and create tooth decay and gum rot, also known as “meth mouth.” Once these symptoms are identified, it’s critical that individuals get professional meth addiction treatment to prevent escalation of meth’s side effects and possible subsequent overdose. The reality is that the effects of meth abuse take hold after a very short time, and it’s critical that meth addiction treatment is administered immediately. Side effects of prolonged and untreated crystal meth addiction can include hypertension, organ failure, and more.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal

Crystal meth withdrawal is one of the most immediate indicators that dependency has developed and that treatment is needed. Methamphetamine withdrawal is caused by the aforementioned changes in brain structures and chemistry that lead to the onset of physical and psychological dependence. The crystal meth withdrawal time is usually divided into three stages: immediate, acute, and long-term. Short-term crystal meth withdrawal symptoms will usually manifest just a few hours after the last cycle of use.

While different for each user, some of the more common crystal meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach illness
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Joint pain and muscle weakness
  • Agitation and cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sleep disorder
  • Mental confusion

Some of the more severe symptoms of meth withdrawal can include seizures and coma, whereas long-term symptoms can include unpleasant dreams, trouble focusing, and more. Meth use during pregnancy often leads to meth withdrawal symptoms in newborns. Without proper treatment for withdrawal symptoms, meth addiction can easily lead to overdoses and death. It’s critically important that users seek proper professional help.

Crystal Meth Overdose Treatment

It’s an unfortunate reality that meth overdose is often the incident that brings users to treatment. When an individual is suffering from meth overdose, time is a critical factor to restore respiratory function, blood flow, and heart rate.

Some of the most common and severe treatment of meth overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed or stopped a heartbeat
  • Coma (in extreme cases)
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Seizures and shaking
  • Stroke

If someone you care about is experiencing these signs, seek medical help right away to avoid the progression of symptoms—or worse. Meth overdose treatment should be left to medical professionals; however, loved ones can take certain immediate lifesaving measures, such as CPR.

Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth addiction is a legitimate medical condition that requires comprehensive treatment to address and manage the physical, psychological, and behavioral aspects of the disease. Comprehensive crystal meth addiction treatment begins with medical detox. This phase of treatment is key to alleviating acute withdrawal symptoms, stabilizing brain chemistry and the central nervous system.

Medically supervised crystal meth detox gives patients the benefit of experienced and qualified doctors and nurses who are trained in the pathology of withdrawal, as well as a safe, comfortable, and discreet treatment environment in which they can heal. Inpatient crystal meth detox programs typically last for three days to a week; however, meth withdrawal can last for months. Although there are no FDA-approved medications to assist in the withdrawal process, certain holistic modalities and over-the-counter medications may be able to help.

After detox, recovering meth users should enter comprehensive behavioral rehab in which they can address the causes and sustaining factors of their abuse. Meth addiction treatment centers offer a variety of rehab models including inpatient and residential, regular and intensive outpatient (IOP), and partial hospitalization or partial day programs. Crystal meth rehab usually includes group therapy, one-on-one counseling, and a variety of supplemental therapies.

Patients suffering from a more protracted case of meth addiction may need time in a sober living facility to redevelop critical life skills and work on the lifestyle fallout associated with their addictions.

In addition to helping patients develop behavioral coping skills to help them avoid relapse, crystal meth rehab also helps patients repair their relationships with their families and cultivate their independence without the threat of succumbing to relapse. If you or someone you care about is looking for meth addiction treatment near you, search our database of treatment centers to find the best option. Your insurance or Medicare or Medicaid may be able to help you pay for all or part of treatment.


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